STORY: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his inquiry into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election described in extensive and sometimes unflattering detail a series of actions by President Donald Trump to impede the probe, raising questions about whether he committed the crime of obstruction of justice.
Thursday's release of the 448-page report after a 22-month investigation was a watershed moment in Trump's tumultuous presidency and inflamed partisan passions ahead of his 2020 re-election bid in a deeply divided country.
Democrats said the report contained disturbing evidence of wrongdoing by Trump that could fuel congressional investigations, but there was no immediate indication they would try to remove him from office through impeachment.
Mueller built an extensive case indicating that Trump had committed obstruction of justice but stopped short of concluding he had committed a crime, though the special counsel did not exonerate the president.
Mueller noted, however, that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law.
"The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law," the report stated.
Mueller, a former FBI director, also unearthed "numerous links" between the Russian government and Trump's campaign, but concluded there was not enough evidence to establish that the campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow in its election meddling.
The report, with some portions blacked out to protect sensitive information, provided fresh details of how the Republican president tried to force Mueller's ouster, directed members of his administration to publicly vouch for his innocence and dangled a pardon to a former aide to try to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel.
The report noted that some Trump aides did not carry out some of Trump's demands, including the one to fire Mueller.
The report stated that when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump in May 2017 that a special counsel was being appointed by the Justice Department to look into allegations that the Republican's campaign colluded with Russia, Trump slumped back in his chair and said, "Oh my god.
This is terrible.
This is the end of my presidency.
I'm fucked." Trump appeared to be in a celebratory mood on Thursday, saying at a White House event with wounded U.S. troops that he was "having a good day" following the report's release, adding, "It's called no collusion, no obstruction." Trump, whose legal team called the report "a total victory" for the president, has long described Mueller's inquiry as a "witch hunt." After receiving a confidential copy of Mueller's report in March, Attorney General William Barr made his own conclusion for the Justice Department that Trump had not committed obstruction of justice.
But he told a news conference on Thursday that Mueller had detailed "10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense." Mueller's report said that Trump was wary of FBI scrutiny of his campaign and him personally.
"The evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the president personally that the president could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns," the report stated.